Thursday, 12 November 2009

SESSION 8: A VoIP WORLD

Moderator: Mr. P. Masambu, Executive Director, Uganda Communications Commission (UCC), Uganda

GSR Discussion Paper on The Future of VoIP Interconnection, [presentation]
Mr. Rudolf Van der Berg, Management Consultant, Logica Management Consulting
Interactive panel discussion:
  • VoIP worldwide and regulatory approaches: an update
  • Evolution of VoIP interconnection
  • What can regulators do to prevent operators from blocking access to VoIP services?
Panelists:
  • Mr. W. Dorji, Head, Telecommunications, Bhutan InfoComm and Media Authority (BICMA), Bhutan
  • Mr. P. Eid, Board Member and Head of Market and Competition Unit, TRA, Lebanon
  • Dr. M. Jankovic, Executive Director, Republic Telecommunication Agency (RATEL), Serbia
Bhutan: We have moved to a converged regulation. We are now responsible for telecoms and content, even print. We have rules that say technological neutrality. Being a mountainous country we didn’t want to exclude any technology. It is about whether it works. VoIP is therefore allowed. For VoIP we did have the discussion on the numbering plan. We went for a non-geographic numbering plan, but we are still consulting. We don’t have a big VoIP operator yet. We are having international VoIP service by the two networks our country has.
Lebanon: Despite the similarity for VOIP to PSTN there are also differences. A customer using the PSTN doesn’t have a backup network. It only works with complicated technology. A VoIP user can use any network that is available. With numbering the PSTN only uses the rigid E.164 numbering plan. VoIP can be more flexible and use all kinds of identifiers. VoIP can offer more codecs with better quality.
Interconnection differs a lot. This is mostly because of the high termination rates. VoIP can rely onder internet exchanges and peering. The incumbent will miss income, but can make that up in different areas. The regulator will have to remove all the barriers and make sure that it all works with simple market entry. The TRA will allow licenses for managed VoIP services. For now we tolerate VoIP, it’s not legal, but we will allow it. It will only be regulated for Lawful Intercept and emergency calls.
Serbia; We have a very competitive market, with lots of ISP’s and Cable companies (around 100). VoIP operators may not circumvent international VoIP termination and will need a transit provider on the public network (PSTN). VoIP will be one of the services on the broadband network. VoIP is not an interesting service anymore, its just data.
Middle East: We believe the customer comes first. So the incumbent may not like this, but it is our position. We believe that we should be technological neutral. VoIP providers do need a license. We don’t have licenses for skype. We have confiscated devices that came with a subscription in high street shops. Even though we allowed skype international revenues grew for the incumbent, so there was no reason to spread fear.
Middle East: The lack of definition for VoIP is a real problem. There are now different approaches for VoIP, like Google Voice and it causes all kinds of regulatory problems how do we deal with it.
Australasia: Congratulations to mrs. Biggs. How are we going to collect data in the future. It will become increasingly hard to tell what VoIP is. So how are we getting the stats. Your challenge was provide data and my answer is what the
Interconnection with VoIP for emergency services. How do you think we can work with location services.
West Africa: If we do not regulate VoIP how do we know it meets certain standards.
Answer Lebanon: Google Voice if we see it as a service that is dependent upon a true broadband connection. The user will be aware that the quality isn’t always perfect.
Answer mrs. Biggs: it’s difficult to collect the stats. Even the commercial organisations have this problem.
Question West Africa: I find it a problem that Africa doesn’t have any statistics. Because you don’t have the stats, you can’t make proper comments. Mrs. Biggs said there were only 20 countries were using VoIP. Is this the incumbents. Or is this done by bypassing the traditional operators. Do these operators have licenses then? We have a problem that the rest of the world isn’t paying for our international connectivity. This is unfair.
Answer we have analyzed the situation in all. I do recognize the problem. We have stats on Africa and we will work with any nations.
Question West Africa: mr. Van der Berg is ENUM necessary for number portability.
Answer: No its not.
Answer Rudolf to West Africa: It is your country who wants to be connected to the internet. It are your people who download stuff from the internet. Not the world dumping it on you. The costs therefore should be born by you.
Serbia: Customers need to know what they get.
Bhutan: ISP’s were using Calling Cards to bypass the incumbent. We now need to deal with that. You cannot ride on someone’s network without investing.

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